Free Saturday parking trial proposed for New Plymouth's CBD
Saturday shopping in New Plymouth's CBD may soon get a boost from a free parking trial.
The proposal from the New Plymouth District Council is for all street parking in the central city to be free on Saturdays from November 7 through to January 16 next year.
New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd said the proposed trial was aimed at providing a boost to retailers during the Christmas and New Year period.
"The current economic climate is difficult for retailers as a result of the downturn in the dairy and oil and gas industries.
"Retail trade is down, consumer confidence is down, business confidence is down," he said.
Judd said the $2 per hour charge to park was seen by some as a barrier to shopping in the city.
While it would do away with the $2 charge it would not do away with the two hour time limit for parking on Devon St.
"Will it work? Will it generate some issues? Will it be complicated or easy for users? We won't know until we try it and that's what the trial is for," he said.
Under the proposal the $2 per hour fee would be reinstated at the end of the trial, while the council and the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce reviewed the results.
From there the council could then look at including any changes to parking in the 2016/2017 Annual Plan.
Dalgleish Diamond Jewellers owner Bill Roy said he was supportive of the proposal.
"It's fantastic. It's going to bring people into town and people can park for nothing," he said.
"I'm sure business will support it and stay open. It can only be positive. It should be seven days a week."
Gavin Clegg, manager of Cleggs Furniture on Devon St East, said the proposal showed great initiative from the council.
"I think it's good to try and it's proactive of the council to do it for the community," he said.
He said the move would be good for customers and was likely to boost traffic through the CBD.
Clegg said people still enjoyed coming to town and the council was making it easier for people to park while they were there.
"I think it would make it more comfortable for people coming and shopping through the CBD," he said.
"You'll do the loop and check out a few different places and get something to eat."
The move isn't the first time a free parking idea has been raised for the CBD.
In June it was suggested that parking should be free for the first hour.
However New Plymouth councillors voted down the 60 minute free parking option after figures showed the council would lose about $1 million in revenue every year if it implemented the change.